Release Day for Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva and Meet the Author

Our time, and all of us, need more stories like this one. A lot of fighting has been done. Now it’s time to normalize what’s been conquered and sweet stories will, as usual, help.

Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva, releases today in the Romance, Young Adult genre.

Alek Khederian thinks about his life B.E. and A.E.: Before Ethan and After Ethan. Before Ethan, Alek was just an average Armenian-American kid with a mess of curly dark hair, grades not nearly good enough for his parents, and no idea of who he was or what he wanted. After he got together with Ethan, Alek was a new man. Stylish. Confident. (And even if he wasn’t quite marching in LGBTQ parades), Gay and Out and Proud.

With their six-month anniversary coming up, Alek and Ethan want to do something special to celebrate. Like, really special. Like, the most special thing two people in love can do with one another. But Alek’s not sure he’s ready for that. And then he learns something about Ethan that may not just change their relationship, but end it.

Alek can’t bear the thought of finding out who he’d be P.E.: Post-Ethan. But he also can’t forgive or forget what Ethan did. Luckily, his best friend Becky and madcap Armenain family are there to help him figure out whether it’s time to just let Ethan go, or reach out and hold his hand.

Hold My Hand is a funny, smart, relatable take on the joy and challenges of teenage love, the boundaries of forgiveness, and what it really means to be honest.


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AUTHOR BIO:Michael Barakiva, author of One Man Guy, is a theater director and writer of Armenian/Israeli descent who lives in Manhattan with his husband, Rafael. He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Juilliard School, an avid cook and board-game player, and a soccer player with the New York Ramblers.

This is what I asked Michael, and what he told me is amazing in its simplicity.

This is the most “normal” book on young love between people of the same sex I’ve put my eyes on. Family and society accepted Alek and Ethan, and troubles come from within their relationship. I have to admit, a positive story  is refreshing (I’m not counting what Ethan did, which I don’t know…). Did you purposely focused on them as a couple as opposed as them versus society?

The reason I started crying around three minutes into the mega musical phenomenon Hamilton, is because I had never seen so many actors of color wearing the pretty clothes. Although Hamilton is about race explicitly (the issue of slavery) and implicitly (King George III is the only white actor in the company), the greatest contribution it will make to the conversation about race is by casting actors of color as the most familiar of American figures and insisting on its normality.  Similarly, for all the obstacles and I wanted to throw at Alek and Ethan in Hold My Hand, I refused to let their queerness be the issue in the book. 

Growing up, I witnessed the introduction of queer characters into mainstream culture.  Almost without exception, these characters were destined to one of three fates:

– becoming HIV + and getting AIDS

– getting gay-bashed

– A combination of 1) and 2). 

I can imagine producers defending these narratives: “It’s not easy being gay, and we don’t want to shy away from harsh realities.”  It’s the same rationale that’s used in explaining why women are so often the victims of violent crime on television: “We’re just trying to reflect reality, okay?”  And the reason that until Hamilton, I didn’t get to see actors from across the racial rainbow wearing the pretty clothes of the period – “It’s not historically accurate, is it?”

But a certain point, we must be suspicious of “The Reality Defense.”  Art inevitably perpetuates whatever it depicts, even if it is presented in a critical light.  This is the reason that I stopped watching GoT – I just couldn’t bear to see another woman assaulted or raped.  Even if it toughened her up.  Even if she was getting bigger, juicier arcs.  It is almost impossible to show something without somewhat endorsing it.

This is the reason that Hold My Hand is not a “queers vs. the world” book.  Like many people I know, I was accepted by my loved ones when I came out.  And yes, I have on occasion felt physically unsafe for holding my man’s hand in public (and given the book title, that is very much addressed in HMH).  And yes, I even had a few encounters that bordered on physical violence.  And while I of course acknowledge that there are still many places in his country and this world where you can’t be out and proud, that has not been, by any means, the majority of my queer experience. 

Rather than tell a story about violence or ostracization, the way they have been told about queers, women and people of color so often and with such pornographic glee, I decided to tell a story of two kids trying to figure it out, peppered with whacky Armenians and delicious food.  A story that could almost be told identically if the characters were straight.  Almost.  Because we have an obligation to claim our narratives and the privilege to insist that they reflect the full gamut of our fabulous experience.

Author links:

Find out more about the book and the Author by following the Tour. You can find the schedule here (

Giveaway: Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)

  • Print copy of Hold My Hand


Xpresso Book Tours

#Romance #books #kindle #booktour #newrelease

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